Or should that be oh myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? Dang. Hi, it’s Linda. My bad. I forgot to post about the third day of the 99-cent promo for Forever Poi, the third official case of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency, our newly found (and doing not too shabby) business. This also marks the fourth day. (And, now, I’d better head to the breakfast table and hear the grumblings.)
Poi has us trying to figure out who torched two up-and-coming art galleries and left two bodies in the ruins.
My best friend, Rey, and her cousin, JJ, and I are sure it’s one and the same person. The problem is determining of the perpetrator is—because there are plenty of them! An art gallery owner who owes a lot of money. A dangerous diva. An I’ll-do-anything-for-you lover. Add to the mix a former queenpin trying to go [somewhat] legit, a surly up-and-coming artist, and two spurned/used ex husbands who haven’t forgotten or forgiven.
Here’s an excerpt, as told by fellow P.I., JJ:
The three of us snuck past a battered barrier like dogged fans past a teen idol’s security. We picked our cautious ways down the narrow debris-laden laneway running between both galleries—or rather the fragmented, crumbled walls that had once served as them.
“Gross.” Gail cursed. “I’m glad I wore old runners.”
“Wish I had,” Rey muttered. “At least I was smart enough to bring a rain jacket.”
“Wish I had,” I murmured.
We continued along the soggy, mucky ground with flashlights in spotlight mode.
“It doesn’t look like any fire damage restoration has started,” Gail commented, picking her grimacing way forward.
“You know, someone might see the lights and come checking. Maybe we should be more careful,” Rey suggested, lowering her flashlight.
“Then we won’t see a thing,” I stressed.
“Point taken.” Rey sighed softly.
“The powers that be have surely gone over this place with a fine-tooth comb,” Gail commented. “Do we really think we’re going to find something in the little time we have before meeting this Timmy-Tom guy?”
“The powers that be may have checked every nook and cranny, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be found,” I said encouragingly.
“Never say never, right?” my cousin jested with a slap to my back.
“We should have brought a shovel or rake, or something to weed through the gunk.” Gail surveyed the ground with a scowl.
Rey reached into a nylon backpack and pulled out a garden trowel. “We have this.”
“Smart thinking, girl.”
“We don’t earn the big bucks ‘cause of looks,” she grinned. “Okay, Cousin Jilly, let’s start serious P.I.’ing.”
“Why don’t you two take the left and I’ll take the right as we move along,” Gail proposed.
Several minutes later, the three of us where in the area where Lolita’s body had been found. Flame-licked, dented bins lay like washed-up tsunami debris.
Rey scrunched up her nose. “You can still smell the fire.”
“Kind of smells like . . . lingering death.”
“Ya think, Cousin Jilly?” Rey’s raspberry was louder than usual.
After a playful punch to her shoulder, I requested she aim the light in and around the bins. Pushing the nearest one aside, I searched inside the rusted, broken container. Nada. Together, we checked the next three. Nothing.
Crouched, Gail ordered us over. Her beam illuminated the side corner of a broken step. Poking from sooty dirt was a diamond-encrusted two-tone heart charm of rose and black gold.
“Pretty,” I murmured.
“Expensive,” Rey added.
“Could it have belonged to Lolita? She did have a bracelet.”
“I thought it was a brass cuff?”
“You’re right.” Shifting the knapsack, I removed two small plastic bags, one to pick up the heart, the other to contain it.
“If it wasn’t Lolita’s, then it may belong to her killer,” Rey stated excitedly.
“May is the key word, but if this pricey little piece does belong to the killer, then it confirms we’re looking for a woman,” I announced.
“Quite likely, but not necessarily,” Gail said with a fixed gaze.
“You’re absolutely right. Never assume.”
She clicked her tongue and rose. “I’m surprised it wasn’t discovered, which makes me wonder if it might have been lost more recently.”
“Given it was semi-buried, I’d have to disagree that,” Rey said.
“Me, too. The rain’s been pretty intense. It may have washed the charm into the open and that’s why it wasn’t previously found.”
Gail shrugged and twirled slowly. “Do we want to check anywhere else? Or stay around here and wait?”
Rey gestured. “Let’s take a quick peek in the area where Carlos’ body was found, just so we have—what do they call it? Context?”
“It can’t hurt.” I removed my cell and took photos.
“Are you still checking out Cholla Poniard’s place tonight?” Gail fell into step beside us. “Or should I say this morning?”
“Why not? We can search for a bracelet missing a charm,” Rey said.
“That would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” I pointed out.
“Not to mention dangerous and illegal,” Gail stated.
My cousin dismissed the comment with a snort and wave.
“I don’t believe Rey wants to be reminded,” I chuckled, stepping over a mound of charred wood.
“Hey, where you all headed?” a gruff voice boomed.
If you’d like to see how we handle this perplexing case, please check us out at: